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Book Review


St. Patrick

How the Irish Saved Civilization

Image: portion of illuminated manuscript page from "The Book of Kells."

Image: Portion of Illuminated page from "The Book of Kells."

Book of Kells: a portion of an illuminated page containing the genealogy of Jesus in the Gospel According to Luke.  _____________

Charming and entirely engaging, delectable voyage into the distant past, a small treasure."  --Richard Bernstein, New York Times

"Delightfully written...full of bold insights into the Irish character and its continuity through the ages."  --Kirkus Review _____________

"Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise..."

  -St. Patrick  (from: P. 118, 119)

How The Irish Saved Civilization

by Thomas Cahill

     From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne--the "dark ages"--learning, scholarship, and culture disappeared from the European continent. The great heritage of Western civilization--from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish and Christian works--would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland. 

     In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known "hinge" of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the "island of saints and scholars," the Ireland of St. Patrick and the Book of Kells. Far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes laboriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury.  With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning.  The Irish were conservators of civilization, and shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western culture.                               _____________________________

"When Cahill shows the splendid results of St. Patrick's mission in Ireland--among them, the preservation and transmission of classical literature and the evangelization of Europe--he isn't exaggerating.  He's rejoicing."          

--The New Yorker

"A lovely tale...Graceful, and instructive."  

--Richard Eder, Los Angeles Times

"A shamelessly engaging, effortlessly scholarly, utterly refreshing history of the origins of the Irish soul and its huge contribution to Western culture."

--Thomas Keneally, Author of Schindler's List

"Cahill's  lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history."      

-Boston Globe 


USE DISCERNMENT: This is Not a book of Christian Teaching, it is a work of Secular History, and as such must be read with Spiritual Discernment.     _______________________________

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Image: Front cover of the book, "How the Irish Saved Civilization."

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Comments of The Prayer Foundation:

Start Reading the Book at Chapter IV:  The Story of St. Patrick

  We recommend skipping the Introduction and first three Chapters (the first 97 pages, which are mainly about Pagan Rome and Pre-Christian Ireland), and going straight to Chapter IV "Good News From Far Off - The First Missionary"(P. 99). 

It has been said that this is the best rendering of the story of St. Patrick ever written, and we wholeheartedly agree. From this point on, the Book is a total joy to read.  

The story of St. Patrick.  The conversion of Ireland to Christianity,  The early Irish monks, and how they lived.  Their evangelization of the rest of Europe. It is a wonderful and inspiring story, beautifully written.        

            -The Prayer Foundation      ______________________________

 If you are interested in reading more about the lives of the early Irish Monks (of Skellig Michael); or to see our comments on where Spiritual Discernment  may be needed when reading about them, see: Sun Dancing: Life in a Medieval Irish Monastery. _______________________________

Copyright 2001 S.G.P. All rights reserved. 

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